A few weeks ago I ended up writing a review of a pair of trousers from Basic Rights. In the review, I mentioned briefly the brand’s mission and goal toward sustainability and ethical production; I had received a large amount of information from the Marketing Director in his responses to my questions about sustainability, so I decided, for Fashion Revolution Week, to take some of his responses and bring them to you, as readers, as I believe they were insightful visions about the impacts of the brand’s policies.
Additionally, I thought it would be useful to scour the web and find some other brands with similar missions.Continue reading
Thrifting is a fun hobby to have. Sure, I understand the allure of buying something from a store or getting it made, but you never know what you’re going to find when you walk into your local Goodwill, Savers, charity shop, or vintage store. It may seem daunting or even a hassle if you’re not used to it, but if you look at it instead as a fun, low-risk gamble and not just an opportunity for cheap clothes, I think you can have a good time. And what better time to check them out than this holiday season!
First off, let me say that I’m a terrible gift giver. It’s not laziness or apathy, but it probably has to do with how specific I am; I just want the person to either love the gift or have some genuine enjoyment out of it. As a result, I used to either give gift cards, cash, or exactly what the person wants. But lately, thanks to a plethora of fun white elephant exchanges with friends and family, I’ve tried to adopt a new view on gift giving. Something quirky or even funny. It’s much better than simply giving them something that they would buy for themselves anyway. So the next time you’re out thrifting for menswear, try looking for out for these cool pieces, perfect for your close friends or that next joke white elephant swap at the office.
There’s always a plethora of oxfords and other dress shirts that can be great stocking stuffers for friends who don’t necessarily dress too well; you could even throw in complimentary tailoring if you feel the need to be extra charitable. Tweed jackets, corduroys, and shoes are also a good buy if you get lucky. And if all else fails, a good repp or foulard tie can usually be found on the way out. I can’t tell you how many times my friends always ask me to find things when I’m out thrifting!
One last thing to look out for (if you have streetwear-oriented friends), are cool 1980s-1990s T shirts. You probably know the ones I’m talking about: stuff from old company parties, band (both rock and brass) festivals, or just ones with “totally radical” graphic design. Perfect for lightwash 501s (which are also good to find while thrifting), tucked into chinos, or as a fun PJ shirt.
Glasses and Decanters
I’m not a big drinker, but I like the opportunity to make it look like I am. Instead of buying fancy glassware or
While a majority of books found at thrift stores are cookbooks and outdated advice books (which can be hilarious in itself), you can definitely find some grails.
Coffee table books are common to find and can be given to friends who have interests in those topics. I’ve come across a few menswear books (like Dressing the Man, by Alan Flusser) but painting, photography, and architecture compendiums are the usual faire. Again, older ones tend to be more interesting, if you can find them that is.
Unique Toys, Bric-a-brac, and Accoutrements
I used to think that bric-a-brac was something reserved specifically for grandparents, but I’ve come to love it! It’s something completely unique that you really can’t find anywhere else that makes for a fun story or at least a funny reaction. One of the most common ones are 80s-90s toys that my friends and I can reminisce on about your youth. I tend to prefer menswear related ones, like a cool wooden statue of a dandy gent that brings to mind the old esquire mascot.
Depending on your thrift/vintage store or antique mall, you could also find things like vintage cufflinks/tie bars, cameras, and even watches. Other than that, nice models of airplanes, bookends, or figurines can be equally as nice. It’s just always worth a look!
Lastly, we have the music. More and more people are getting record players and collecting vintage LPs. While you may not find that crazy-rare jazz record at a Goodwill, you can find some hidden gems; I personally have found the old 1960’s score to Mary Poppins and the first Pink Panther film! Usually, random jazz recordings, orchestra compilations, or obscure 1970’s groups are what populate the racks. I’m not a huge physical music collecting guy, but it’s fun to find something with great album artwork and to listen to music that you can’t really find online. Just be sure to inspect the record for any scratches before you buy them!
Part of being a classic menswear guy for me is the ability to have products that last a long time. We oftentimes rationalize higher priced purchases because of the quality that goes into them. Suits with full canvassing, tailors cutting a pattern with extra seam allowance so the suit can still be modified fit when we gain or lose weight, or shoes welted instead of glued so that they can be resoled, thereby having a longer lifespan. While for many this is a justification, it also serves as a deciding economic factor or a philosophical factor when purchasing a product.
In the case of Standard Fair, they have designed a product around quality and lifespan. Whereas most other sneakers are not designed to be resoled, Standard Fair bucked that concept and designed a piece of footwear from the sole up, building it to be resolable. The shoes are made in the United States in Maine, sourced with quality leathers from Italian leather mills that work with historic, labor intensive methods to produce vegetable-tanned full grain leather. They have selected leathers from two members of the Italian True Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium, Conceria Walpier (for white vegetable tanned leather), and Conceria Tempesti (for the other colors). Created on top of camp soles (more on that in a bit), the shoes are stitched using blake methods to allow the sole to be replaced. And while it is difficult to find individuals to resole blake shoes in the USA (not as difficult in countries like Italy), Standard Fair offers a resoling and refinishing service, to help keep your shoes nice and functional. Overall, the company is aiming to provide you with a product that will last a long time with proper care.
When asked to provide a review as a Styleforum user–more so lurker–I decided to let Standard Fair send me whichever color pathway of the Sport Camp they wanted. It didn’t matter so much to me because I own a pair similar to them from another small footwear manufacturer Collegium, also from a similar leather mill, and I own Buttero in both black and white color pathways. In the end, Mike, the well informed, friendly proprietor and creator of Standard Fair, opted to send me black. While they wouldn’t have been my first choice, I had decided that I would go into this review focusing on the quality and design, not on trying to make sure I am overly biased based on choosing a preferred color pathway (which would have been the white for me, seeing as how veg-tanned white leather sounds utterly strange and exciting to me). I’d like to think that this helped make me a touch more objective when considering the shoe.
So you understand, I’m not unfamiliar with “stitched construction” sneakers, especially margom soles. I have bought several pairs of margom cup stitched sneakers thinking that I could get them to be resoled. In the end, I am incredibly disappointed with the longetivity of the margom cup soles, seeing as how I feel the soles wear through rather quickly. After a little under two years of semi-regular wear (with rotation), a pair of shoes from Buttero has horrible soft spots on the rubber. I had reached out to Buttero to inquire as to if they were resoleable, seeing as how they are stitched, and the Italian company confirmed with me and their factory that they cannot be resoled because they are glued, that the stitching is superficial.
As I wrote earlier, part of what separates Standard Fair from other makers, besides the construction, is the transparency in sourcing and material design. Mike is willing to let you know exactly where materials are being sourced, and they have a space on their website showing you from where each component, down to the most minute like the insole or laces, are being manufactured or originated. Their openness is refreshing, seeing as how few other brands are willing to discuss their manufacturers or sourcing. In addition, the choice of manufacturing the products in places such as the USA speaks to their commitment to quality manufacturing. Mike acknowledges that just because a product says its made in a certain country (England, USA, Italy) does not mean that the product is going to be of good quality. However, his careful sourcing of suppliers and manufacturers has put Standard Fair at the top of the game in terms of quality. I feel that the quality of the materials that went into this shoe are better than those that went into Buttero. To me, having felt the two sneakers side by side, Buttero feels more like a fashion brand, while Mike’s Standard Fair feels truly like a quality focused brand.
Aesthetically, Standard Fair opted for a few little stylistic choices to set them off from more minimalistic competitors. The shoes have heel and tongue patches of the same leather, flesh out. In theory, this leather should continue to develop a patina through wear as well. The soles are tone on tone, matched against the leather upper color. There is also a loop on the tongue, to run the laces through and keep the tongue up. Overall they are fairly streamlined, and I can picture the white pair being a staple in my wardrobe. The black works well especially in winter since it doesn’t attract too much attention, especially as the leather has gained a matte patina through the few weeks of pretty intense wear, giving the shoes a more lived-in look.
The camp soles are something that you don’t really see on sneakers. For those of you that are not aware, they are found on a lot of preppier, New England styled, casual footwear, including moccasins from makers Quoddy, Rancourt, and Yuketen. The concept behind the camp sole was to have a lightweight, sturdy yet comfortable rubber sole that would allow comfort based footwear, like a moccasin, to be worn when lounging around outside–during a weekend getaway for instance at your local New England summer lake. Prior to Standard Fair, it would be only common to see a camp sole on a moccasin, oftentimes handsewn. Because the soles have a nice grain to them, they provide good traction, and the wedge cutout found on many of them keep the sole nice and light. It makes a lot of sense to pair this sole with sneakers for that reason and thinking about it, I can imagine we will some other manufacturers emulating this in the future.
Because they are Blake stitched, the sole breaks in a bit more rapidly, seeing as how it features a thick, rubber sole sourced from Sao Paulo. The sole material feels comfortable. I don’t feel any stress standing on my feet since the support on the arch especially is incredibly nice for a sneaker.
While they are true to size, for individuals with a higher instep or a wider foot, I would suggest a half size up. Having gone TTS based on the suggestion of Mike, I found that my feet, especially when laced tightly, by the end of the day wanted a little bit more breathing room. The leather, while it has broken in, is still a stiffer leather (its a feature of the specific leather mill), and so it probably would have been beneficial to have extra space at the beginning, especially seeing as how with thicker socks, my feet feel rather tight in the shoe. Going forward into warmer seasons, the shoes will work nicely with thinner socks.
Would I buy these shoes? Yes. Because of the resolability, the quality materials and the ability to gain a patina, through wear, especially on the Chestnut and Honey colorways, you have a pair of shoes that can last you a very, very long time with upkeep and wear. If you are someone who truly respects quality and craftsmanship, these are for you. They also have a design that many may find that they like, even if it is a touch less minimalist because of the flesh out patches on the heel and tongue. Don’t let those patches deter you from considering the shoes since they are less distracting when on the foot than it appears in photos. Personally, my pick would be the white or Honey color pathways. You really aren’t going to find other sneakers that will last you a lifetime with proper care with good support that will gain a nice patina over time.
Join the discussion on the forum on the Standard Fair Official Affiliate Thread.
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Finding a gift for a woman is a complicated task – and things get even trickier if she happens to have sophisticated tastes. Here’s a selection of great gift ideas –or shall I call it a wishlist?– to inspire you to pick a great present for the women in your life. The best part? They are all quite affordable.
CASHMERE SWEATPANTS $140
“Cashmere” and “sweatpants” are two words that only recently have been seen together – with the rise of the athleisure movement and the attempt from retailers to ennoble (or at the very least dignify) garments of modest and humble tradition. You may think that paying over $100 for something with a drawstring is lunacy, but believe me when I say that whoever will receive this gift will hardly be able to stop wearing it. These sweatpants are as comforting as a warm cup of hot chocolate on a winter night, plus they are sustainably made with Mongolian cashmere in one of Everlane’s approved factories in China.
Usually I refrain from suggesting any gift “for the home”, as the risk of not meeting the recipient’s taste in high, and they would find themselves in the unpleasant situation of having to dispose of the object by either donating it, throwing it away, or recycling it as a gift for someone else. However, candles are a fairly safe option, especially if they come in a mini size like these Dyptique votive candles: in the unlikely case the person doesn’t appreciate the fragrance, they are gone fairly quickly and don’t leave any bitter feeling of regret or frustration behind.
Chocolate is another great option if you’re unsure about someone’s tastes, because -again- it’s not an object that will perpetually be under someone’s nose, but rather it’s something that can be enjoyed by anyone who walks by. I am a big fan of Charbonnel&Walker’s truffles, which come in a variety of flavors and combinations. Dark chocolate lovers will appreciate the black truffles with Marc de Champagne, while more delicate palates will love the pink chocolate infused with roses.
If you’re confident enough to go down the jewelry route, my suggestion is to take a close look at the person’s style and choice of jewelry and try to choose something that could work with their collection. A giant cocktail ring encrusted with rubies might be cool, but it’s unlikely to work with most women’s collections. Consider instead a pair of miniature gold hoops, which look flattering on most face shapes and complexions, or a minimalistic necklace like this elegant piece by Mejuri in gold vermeil and sapphires.
A classic button-down shirt will find a place in almost any wardrobe, especially if you choose a neutral color or a classic pattern. I like Frank&Eileen’s take on the classic button-down, with a slightly more relaxed fit that’s almost menswear-inspired; the pattern matching is surprisingly good too.
This great stocking stuffer features one of my favorite Florentine brands, Marvin. I am a fan of their Jasmin mint toothpaste, but I am sure that any American girl will love the cinnamon mint tube. I have given away several tubes throughout the years and I can’t remember anyone who hasn’t come back to ask me where I bought it, because they just need more!
I am breaking the rule of not giving something with the potential of sitting unused for years to come, for the simple fact that this pillbox is adorable. The shape is incredibly satisfying just to watch, and I can almost feel its weight by imagining to hold it in my hand. Even if it did sit unused, it would just look like a beautiful design object, and I bet it could double as a cool paperweight.
A CASHMERE BERET $198
A beret is essentially the classier version of a beanie. I know the struggle women go through when they need to conciliate their city life with the burning desire to wrap themselves in something that keeps them warm. I succumbed to the chills of winter weather enough times to know that a warm beanie is the last resort, albeit ugly and resembling a woolen condom, to keep my head and ears from developing ice stalactite. A beret is a relatively basic hat – it happens to be in vogue just now – and if you pick carefully (I like this one in white cashmere by Janessa Leone) you will give something that is way more stylish than a beanie, but just as useful.
GIFT CARDS $25 & UP
Contrarily to what seems to be the popular opinion, I am not against gift cards at all. What may seem like a couldn’t-care-less gift might actually be an effort to make sure the person receives something meaningful and useful that doesn’t go unappreciated. In order to keep this sentiment alive, my suggestion is to give a gift card along with the gift of your time to go find this special something. Pick a shop she likes – it could be Sephora, Nordstrom, or Bloomingdale’s – and make sure she knows that you’ll be there to share a fun afternoon of shopping with her.